Most cases of depression require treatment in some form or another. Be it therapy, medications, counseling, or self-care (sleep, physical activity, and diet), depression needs to be communicated and addressed so that it doesn’t worsen. According to research, eating the right foods ties with getting adequate sleep for combatting depression.
Diet is an integral part of mental health, so much so that there are specialists known as nutritional psychologists. The foods people eat can influence both physical and mental health. Multiple studies have found that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, antioxidants, and wild caught fish and low in animal foods decreased a person’s risk of depression. Consuming a lot of processed foods, meat, meat products, refined grains, sweets, dairy products, and avoiding fresh, plant-based foods increased a person’s risk of depression.
Does Poor Diet Or Depression Come First?
This debate is almost like the chicken or the egg argument. Being depressed may make you more prone to eating unhealthy foods, but eating unhealthy foods may lead to depression. According to research, people who followed a healthy diet, like the Mediterranean diet, had a decreased risk of developing symptoms of depression.
While it can be difficult to opt for healthy foods when you find comfort in a bag of chips, eating healthy can be a great way to improve your mental health. Follow the dietary recommendations in this article to naturally decrease your risk of depression.
More Whole Foods, Less Packaged
The excess sugars, fats, and hormones from dairy products and processed foods can lead to mental and physical ups and downs. Food in its natural state (i.e. foods without chemicals, additives, or refined sugars) is rich in a variety of essential nutrients that help the body function optimally. Clean eating doesn’t necessarily translate to veganism or vegetarianism. Vegans and vegetarians can eat poorly if they are focusing on soy products or frozen, fake meat products. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains should be your focus.
Eat Your Tomatoes
The only thing holding you back from doing this is a tomato allergy! Tomatoes contain a lot of folate and alpha-lipoic acid, both of which have been known to naturally fight depression. A research study that was published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, found that depression patients were deficient in folate. Folate helps to prevent the formation of homocysteine, which partially inhibits the production of important neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Alpha-lipoic helps to stabilize your mood because it turns glucose into energy.
Healthy Diet = Better Mood
Dieting can cause stress, but stress hormones can cause you to break your diet. Stick to the path of clean and healthy eating to naturally boost brain health and mood. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids work to encourage healthy brain function and can naturally reduce depression symptoms. Over the last century, there has been a massive shift away from natural foods containing omega-3s. Several studies attribute the rise in mental health disorders to the lack of fatty acids in peoples’ diets. Foods that are high in omega-3s include avocados, walnuts, Brussels sprouts, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
Cut Out The Sweets
Eating a lot of foods with refined sugars can take your blood sugar levels on wild ride over peaks and valleys. Sticking to foods in their natural state can help eliminate cravings, reduce inflammation, and promote a better outlook on life.
The moral of the story is to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. You want to avoid foods that contain refined grains, refined sugars, animal products, trans fats, and antibiotics. Your diet has a bigger influence on your mental health than you think, so keep eating clean to help avoid depression symptoms.